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Juventus 2 - Salernitana 1: Initial reaction and random observations

Just when it looked like Juve might drop points against the team at the bottom of the Serie A table, it was Dusan Vlahovic to the rescue in stoppage time.

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-SALERNITANA-JUVENTUS Photo by CARLO HERMANN/AFP via Getty Images

It didn’t take long to figure out Sunday evening that this was going to be the kind of game in which Juventus had to try an answer against a Salernitana side that was going to sit deep in defense. That became even more of the case early in the second half when Giulio Maggiore, the same dude who was responsible for handing his team a 1-0 lead, was sent off after being shown a second yellow.

That raised the question: Could Juventus take advantage of the man advantage and suddenly unlock a Salernitana defense that is statistically the worst in Serie A?

The answer: They did. Just barely, but they did.

For the second time in four days, Juventus recorded a come-from-behind victory over Salernitana. The one on Sunday was very much the polar opposite of the one we saw three days earlier in the Coppa Italia Round of 16, with a second-half comeback needed to dig out of a 1-0 hole and secure three points in Salerno. The comeback began through second-half substitute Samuel Iling-Junior tying things up with his first goal of the season. It was complete when Dusan Vlahovic, in the first minute of stoppage time, scored his second game-winning goal in the span of three weeks with a towering and thunderous header to give the 2-1 win over 10-man Salernitana to help Juventus keep pace with league leaders Inter Milan.

While the goals were pretty, the way in which they were getting there most definitely was not.

As Max Allegri warned his team of and mentioned during his pre-match press conference, this was not the same kind of game that we saw three days earlier in the Coppa Italia. This was a Salernitana side that had some of their best players back in the lineup after the midweek squad rotation. And, as we’ve seen plenty of times before, a Salernitana team that was happy to sit back and do what gives Juve a lot of problems — packing it in and forcing Allegri’s squad to break you down rather than hit you on the counter.

For a large portion of the night, it was looking like one of those nights in which every single thing Juventus tried to do going forward wasn’t going to work. While they created chances, it’s not like they were peppering the Salernitana goal by any means. It was very much what we’ve come to expect from Juve when a team drops back and essentially dares them to break them down much in the same fashion that Allegri does more often than not.

Juventus’ xG in the first half? A whopping 0.29. That’s not good!

Even with the man advantage it wasn’t looking all that encouraging. Juventus recorded 18 shots against Salernitana on Sunday, but only three of them were actually put on target. The good thing about that? Two of them proved to be the second-half goals that won it for Juve, who are now back to just two points behind winter champions Inter as that Derby d’Italia at the start of February looms ever so massive in a few weeks.

The last shot on goal, though, that was the most important of them all. Vlahovic’s header was just as good as the ball that Danilo sent into him. And it was the latest edition of Fine alla Fine that this team has displayed this season even when the overall product was not at the best level.

Sure, this performance didn’t come close to rivaling that of what we saw on Thursday night. It wasn’t the repeat of goals galore that one might have been hoping for knowing that the team Juve just beat 6-1 a few days ago was the same one they were playing on Sunday. But if the theme of the week declared by your friends here at BWRAO was to not screw things up in the two games against Salernitana, then mission accomplished.

It was certainly better than the alternative against the worst team in the league, that’s for sure.

RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS

  • Here is a picture of Max Allegri in a beanie. I think it looks cool.
FBL-ITA-SERIEA-SALERNITANA-JUVENTUS Photo by CARLO HERMANN/AFP via Getty Images
  • Well, at least Juve didn’t allow a goal within the first 60 seconds like they did on Thursday. So there’s that, which was nice.
  • Dusan Vlahovic is an intense fella when he’s on the field. Those celebrations both after the goal and after the final whistle only proved that. My goodness does he wear his heart on his sleeve when he’s out there. Good to see that he was rewarded again in this game for his recent uptick in form.
  • Juventus’ bench had seven players available. Two were keepers. That’s not exactly plentiful options for Max Allegri to work with come the second half. At least no injuries happened.
  • And as it turned out, Max ended up using every single one of those five outfield players off the bench. Those subs, especially the one we’re about to talk about, made sense. (Although, not sure about the Yildiz-for-Miretti swap for the simple reason of Kenan’s ability to make something out of nothing, but it all worked out in the end.)
  • Is it time we discuss a potential changing of the guard on the left wing between Iling-Junior and Filip Kostic? This was another game in which Kostic was completely ineffective going forward in the first half — 69% pass completion, 0-for-5 on cross, 0-for-3 on long balls, lost possession 12 times — and got the hook at halftime. And credit to Max for recognizing that Iling-Junior just made more sense than whatever the heck you could call what Kostic was doing. It was a necessary move — and it paid off big time. Now we see what happens the next few weeks because Iling-Junior is starting to look better now that he’s actually getting some minutes.
  • That finish from Iling-Junior, too. That was pretty!
  • Danilo’s cross on Vlahovic’s game-winning goal — bene, molto bene. That was a throwback to his fullback days. Just an assist that was put right on the money for its intended target.
  • Something that was not so great? Juventus’ defending on the counterattack on Salernitana’s goal. It doesn’t take a tactical mastermind to see that leaving somebody wide open at the top of the box can end up in a bad way — and that’s exactly what happened.
  • Juventus’ amount of possession through the first 10 minutes: 69%. Heh. Nice.
  • Salernitana finished with eight shots.
  • Salernitana finished with nine fouls committed.
  • More Josepn Nonge? More Joseph Nonge!
  • Nonge also served as the perfect hype man as he held up Vlahovic’s jersey while he stood on the ad board, barechested and all, and celebrated with the traveling fans. Well done, kid.
  • Pippo Inzaghi’s hair, even in the Salerno rainstorm that took place Sunday night, looked majestic. I know I said something about Pippo’s hair after the Coppa game, but that kind of stuff deserves recognition at every opportunity.
  • Another lineup question to ponder: Is Daniele Rugani better for this team right now than Federico Gatti? Consider the fact that it would push Danilo over to a more natural right sdie of the defense and it’s an interesting thing to ponder, folks.
  • Who led Juve in touches? Danilo.
  • Who led Juve in key passes? Danilo.
  • Who had the best pass success rate of any Juve starter? Yeah, it was Danilo.
  • Hans Nicolussi Caviglia’s first big-time pass attempts were the right idea yet were not executed all that well. However, I feel like he grew into a game where he was facing his former club pretty well. Basically, he did the job, did it in a solid way and didn’t exactly play at a level where you’re left shaking your head because he was so bad.
  • Wojciech Szczesny was only forced into a couple of saves. Both of them were pretty good ones, though. Sounds like something we say a lot these days.
  • Quite the big day for the Juventus family: Men win late, Women win the Supercoppa late, Next Gen hang on late to beat our old “friend” Zdenek Zeman and Pescara. Not bad. Not bad at all, fam.
  • In conclusion, let’s just let Juventus’ Twitter social media folks take it away:
  • Yep. That’s enough right there. Happy Sunday, everybody. Here’s another three points for you to put in the bank and enjoy. Or, hopefully you enjoy these three points. Or at least the way Juve won it. Some of the other parts, I’ll understand if you didn’t like those.